Top 10 Disturbing Facts About Los Zetas

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Top 10 Disturbing Facts About Los Zetas


Los Zetas is a Mexican drug cartel known for its sophisticated crime machine and brutality. What’s distressing about the criminal organization is not only the atrocities they have committed in the past but the potential they possess to increase their scale of operations and perpetuate more horrors in the future. The following facts also illustrate the reality that an immediate defeat of the drug cartel may be far from feasible. These are the top ten distressing facts about Los Zetas you don’t want to know.

10Los Zetas Was Formed By Ex-Military Men

Photo credit: VICE News

Countries’ militaries are dedicated to defense from external aggression and the protection of people’s lives and properties. Imagine how tragic it would be for such a respected and honored organization to become an evil one like Los Zetas. To set the records straight, Los Zetas was formed by Mexican ex-military men. The deadly organization started out as the enforcement branch of the Mexican Gulf Cartel. The group was originally made up of 34 Mexican Special Forces soldiers.

When Osiel Cardenas Guillen took over as the leader of the Gulf Cartel, it was in the midst of a violent turf war. In order to protect himself from harm, Guillen hired a retired Mexican soldier as his bodyguard, who in turn solicited 30 Mexican Army deserters to form the cartel’s well-paidmercenary wing. Eventually, this group broke away to become a drug cartel of their own, which is now the notorious Los Zetas. There have been several criminal organizations in the world which have perpetrated destructive acts against humanity without any form of military training, either formal or informal. What should we expect from a heartless criminal organization put together by ex-military men?

9Its Founding Fathers Were Trained By The US Military

It is disheartening to hear that the founding fathers of a criminal organization like Los Zetas received training from US military officers.] It is a fact that some of the cartel’s initial members were elite Mexican troops who were trained in the early 1990s by America’s 7th Special Forces Group. They were given map reading courses, communications, and standard Special Forces training as well as instruction on how to use light and heavy weapons, machine guns, and several other automatic weapons.

The irony of this scenario is that the training they received was supposed to prepare them for counterinsurgency and counter-narcotics operations. Instead, they became the drug cartel they were supposed to fight. You cannot underestimate the capabilities of a cartel whose founding fathers were trained by the US military. This is a unique and distressing fact about the deadly gang.

8It Is The Largest Drug Cartel In Mexico

Los Zetas is the largest drug cartel in Mexico in terms of scale of operations. It operates in more than half of the country’s 32 states.By the end of 2011, Los Zetas had eclipsed the Sinaloa Cartel as the largest operating in Mexico by virtue of their geographic presence. Los Zetas operates in 17 states, while Sinaloa operates in 16 states.

Los Zetas’s status as the largest drug cartel in Mexico carries additional implications. There is a huge consensus that Mexican drug cartels are responsible for the drug epidemic in the United States. At this juncture, it is safe and reasonable to conclude that Los Zetas is one of the biggest headaches of the American people.

7Los Zetas Recruits In The United States

It would occur to many as an unacceptable surprise that Los Zetas recruits members in the United States. The cartel recruits in US prisons and also courts street gang members for its drug trafficking activities in Mexico and the US. Moreover, the extremely violent gang has made connections and collaborated with US gangs all over the country since 2010.

The implication of this is that Los Zetas continues to bolster its criminal operations through nontraditional and unexpected means. The import of this for the American people is that no matter what measures the US government takes to destroy the vast network of drug smuggling within the country, the effort may be fruitless, as it is no longer a case of fighting a foreign entity. With Americans running the organization, winning the war against Los Zetas would be much more difficult.

6They Sponsor And Bribe Politicians

The fact that Los Zetas and other Mexican gangs sponsor politicians in Mexico is a huge problem. If the lawmakers are puppets to drug cartels, then there is very little hope that the war against the cartels will be won. Since 2011, there have been numerous scandals exposing the collusion between politicians and drug cartels. These cases have highlighted the growing interest of Mexican cartels in influencing politics.

Not only are groups like Los Zetas interested in influencing politics, but Mexican politicians are equally interested in the dividends of the drug trade. Tomas Yarrington, former governor of Tamaulipas, is currently facing multiple drug trafficking and money laundering charges in the United States. The criminal indictment claims that the former governor took bribes from drug cartels in exchange for official protection. Yarrington is reported to have allowed the Gulf and Los Zetas cartels to operate in his state without hindrance in return for bribes. Former governor Humberto Moreira was also singled out by former Mexican president Felipe Calderon has having protected Los Zetas in his state.

Drug cartels influencing politics paints a picture of total disaster. If Mexican governors have been indicted as Los Zetas collaborators, then there is a possibility that one day, the criminal organization could produce a governor from its ranks.

5They Grow And Manufacture Drugs Overseas

Los Zetas is a criminal gang that manufactures and smuggles illegal drugs like cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, ecstasy, and marijuana, among others. Traditionally, Mexican cartels like Los Zetas only grew and manufactured drugs in Mexican territory and other less advanced countries where government officials were collaborators or incapable of disrupting their operations. However, of recent, they’ve taken their drug manufacturing activities to highly advanced countries like the United States.

In 2015, US law enforcement discovered a marijuana field in Texas with a market value of $2 million. The field was linked to the Los Zetas cartel. It was found in Webb County, near the border city of Laredo. The find is indicative of cartel operations in Texas and the United States as a whole.

Groups like Los Zetas have also been known to operate abroad, buying raw materials from Argentina and operating in Asian countries like Malaysia.Mexican drug cartels are currently operating in 47 countries around the world, including Colombia, Guatemala, and others. Their operations in Colombia and Guatemala can be taken for granted, considering the fact that these countries have homegrown drug cartel problems of their own. More terrifying is their ease of operations in countries like US. The fact that Los Zetas was able to grow and nurture $2 million worth of marijuana in Texasis quite distressing. Who knows what is going on in American Samoa.

4Drug Smuggling Isn’t Their Only Crime

Los Zetas is indeed the worst Mexican drug cartel in history. While older cartels were more interested in smuggling drugs than anything else, Los Zetas apparently has its sights set on any type of crime that translates into quick and steady cash. Aside from manufacturing illegal drugs and trafficking them, the gang is also into kidnapping and extortion. In August 2017, the cartel kidnapped 17 people and kept them in a stash house in Nuevo Laredo. The rescue was made possible by an anonymous tip about gunmen bringing victims into a house in the Villas de la Fe neighborhood.

To make matters worse, the gang is also into migrant smuggling. Not only does Los Zetas control key drug smuggling routes into the United States, but it now controls much of the illicit trade of sneaking migrant workers to the US. As usual, they’ve also brought an unprecedented level of violence to the trade. The gang often kidnaps and holds poor migrants who try to operate outside the system for ransom. If their relatives do not pay for their release, they may be killed and dumped into mass graves.

3They Are The Most Brutal Drug Cartel In History

Photo credit: Unknown

Rival gang MS-13 may have the most terrifying tattoos (see featured image), but Los Zetas wins the prize for violence. Brutality and inhumanity are the most noticeable traits of drug cartels all over the world, but Los Zetas has taken them to a new high. There is a popular consensus that Los Zetas is the most brutal and inhuman drug cartel in history. In August 2010, the gang massacred 72 kidnapped migrants at a remote ranch in Northeastern Mexico after they refused to pay a ransom for their release or take jobs as hit men. Los Zetas has been linked to several other mass murders in Mexico.

The cartel’s brutal murders came to a head under the leadership of Miguel Angel Trevino Morales. The heartless drug lord is claimed to have personally killed 2,000 people, in addition to ordering and supervising thousands of other murders. Morales’s most preferred method of killing was to stuff victims in oil barrels and set them ablaze. He also forced captured Mexican migrants into gladiatorial fights to the death. He frequently supervised killing experiments wherein new recruits were ordered to kill people with a machete or sledgehammer.

It is practically impossible to list all the atrocities that have been committed by this extremely violent group.

2They Are Aided By The Mexican Police

A depressing fact about Los Zetas is that they are sometimes aided by Mexican police in the commission of unspeakable crimes. Following the murder of 72 kidnapped migrants in August 2010, subsequent investigation revealed that some Mexican policemen assisted the Zetas in committing the slaughter. Local police rounded up migrants traveling by bus and handed them over to the gang. They also acted as lookouts for the cartel and turned a blind eye to their illegal activities.

Rogue policemen are believed to have played a role in the deaths of 193 people, whose bodies were found in hidden graves in San Fernando in 2011, and 49 in Cadereyta in the state of Nuevo Leon in 2012.

1They Possess Unassailable Radio Communication Technology

The Mexican military has been trying unsuccessfully for years to dismantle an extensive network of radio antennas built and operated by the Los Zetas drug cartel.The authorities haven’t succeeded in shutting down the cartel’s sophisticated radio communication due to two reasons: The first is that the radio equipment is easy to replace; the second is that the gang relies on free forced labor to build and maintain its radio equipment.

This radio communication technology has given them a edge over Mexicanlaw enforcement agencies for years.


Top 10 Bizarre Festivals Of Violence From Around The World

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Top 10 Bizarre Festivals Of Violence From Around The World


We’ve covered quite a lot of bizarre festivals over the years. However, we’ve never focused specifically on the oddly violent ones. Detailed here are the top 10 unique and puzzling celebrations with pain at their core.

10Entroido Carnival

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Entroido Carnival takes place in Laza, Spain, and lasts for three days. On the first day, men dress up in terrifying wooden masks and march through the street with whips. They represent the Galician taxmen who policed the townspeople in the 16th century. Get in their way or exist near them and you’re gonna get a whipping.

Monday is the most violent day of the festival. It’s centered around a practice called farrapada (“ragging”). Muddy rags are thrown indiscriminately at anything with a pulse.

However, the most feared participants of the day are those who carry sacks. They’ve spent time in the lead-up to the festival scooping up anthills and dumping them inside the sacks. Vinegar is poured over the bagged ants, which makes them particularly bitey. Fellow revelers (who now seriously lament bringing muddy rags to a vinegary ant fight) are chased down as the insects are hurled in their direction.

Things wind down on Tuesday with a satirical poem known as the testament of the donkey. Laza residents who have made errors during the year are individually lambasted and handed sections of donkey in the hope that it will somehow help them avoid repeating those errors.

9Cotswold Olimpick Shin-Kicking

Photo credit: The Telegraph

The annual Cotswold Olimpick Games are home to a variety of events. Many are just as archaic as the spelling of “Olympic.” You’re likely familiar with tug-of-war and Morris dancing. Piano smashing, you can figure out. However, the festival’s most popular and violent event is the shin-kicking championship.

Matches are a one-on-one affair. Competitors place their hands on each other’s shoulders. In that position, they must wrestle for leverage to unleash a flurry of kicks to their opponent’s shins. The bout ends when one competitor can take no more. At this point, “sufficient” is all they need state. It’s how the British gentleman says, “Mommy, make it stop.”

The Cotswold Olimpick Games are believed to have started in 1622. Back then, things could get bloody. It’s believed that iron-capped boots were commonly worn and that competitors would condition their shinbones throughout the year by smashing them with objects such as hammers.

Nowadays, it’s a classy affair. Iron-capped boots aren’t allowed, and competitors’ trouser legs are stuffed with straw for cushioning. Also, they wear shepherds’ smocks, which are essentially the same as lab coats. It makes the whole thing seem like a nerd fight over which series of Star Trekwas the best.

8Agni Keli

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In Mangalore, India, devout Hindus gather to appease the goddess Durga by throwing burning palm leaves at each other. Participants meet at the local river for a communal and spiritually significant cleansing. Then it’s time to play some flaming dodgeball.

Participants divide into two groups. From there, palm-built torches are hurled at the opposing side. The more people are hit, the more Durga is impressed.

Officially, each participant is only allowed five throws, but the fire fight lasts roughly 15 minutes. This means that a lot of torches are being recycled, indicating that Durga’s a chilled-out goddess when it comes to rules. Nevertheless, there are referees present to make sure that people don’t get too badly injured . . . while being pelted with flaming palm leaves.

After the 15 minutes have elapsed, the participants walk toward the Kateel Durgaparameshwari Temple where another quick fire fight takes place before injuries are doused with holy water.

7Rouketopolemos (The Rocket War)

Photo credit: The Atlantic

Easter night in Vrontados, Greece, is not a peaceful time. Two rival churches (Saint Mark and Panagia Erithiani) have been competing with each other for centuries. Every year, both churches attempt to settle the score by launching fireworks in the other’s direction. The loser is the church whose bell gets hit first.

And for the winner—bragging rights, we guess. It’s just fun to find an excuse to shoot fireworks at bells. Also, recording the bell hits isn’t done scientifically, meaning both churches claim victory every year.

Not everyone is a fan of the festivities. The surrounding buildings have to be protected with metal sheets, or they will suffer significant damage. Fires are often started, the worst of which have led to death.

In 2016, the event was canceled due to safety concerns. One local man is quoted as saying, “Many people have complaints about the damages that rocket war causes every year. But those people are not a lot, only 20, I think. I hope . . . this tradition will be continued.”

6The Battle of the Oranges

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The origin of the annual Battle of the Oranges in Ivrea, Italy, is unclear. Thelegend goes that around the 12th century, the city was ruled by a particularly nasty marquis. Mad on power, he attempted to rape a local miller’s daughter. She ended up decapitating him and inspired a revolt in which the palace was burned to the ground.

The festival is a reenactment of this revolt. Only instead of stones and whatever other projectiles were used against the marquis’s men, now the battle is solely fought with oranges.

Crates of the fruit are stacked in the street for anyone who wishes to take part in the festivities. From there, you simply wait for the marquis’s men to come through, guided by surprisingly obedient (yet no doubt terrified) horses. Although they do return fire, the most likely injury you’ll endure will come from friendlies as oranges are lobbed from one side to another.

If you’ve ever had an orange thrown at you, you know that they can leave an impressive bruise. At least 70 people were treated for their injuries last year alone.

5Bolas De Fuego
El Salvador

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In 1658, the volcanic eruption of El Playon destroyed the town of Nixapa in El Salvador. Survivors relocated to what is modern-day Nejapa. The Bolas de Fuego event is held every August 31 in commemoration.

The name translates to “Balls of Fire” and is in no way misleading. In the three months leading up to the event, participants construct over 1,500 apple-sized balls of kerosene-soaked cotton. They’re also wrapped in wire. That way, they don’t lose their shape and can really smack into their targets.

Amazed tourists hide behind their camera phones as the fireballs begin to sail through the night sky. Most participants’ faces are also daubed with intimidating face paint—just in case the fireballs weren’t enough to get your heart rate up.

Although the footage of the two-hour battle looks extreme (and the balls regularly stray into the crowd of spectators), serious injuries are surprisingly low.

4Saidai-ji Eyo Hadaka Matsuri (Festival Of Naked Fighting Men)

Photo credit: CES

Hadaka Matsuri roughly translates to “Naked Festival.” Many have popped up in Japan over the years, but none are more famous than Saidai-ji Eyo Hadaka Matsuri. It takes place every year at Saidaiji Temple in Okayama.

Technically, no one’s really naked. The 9,000 exclusively male participants all wear loincloths—identical to those worn by sumo wrestlers. From a raised window, a priest throws around 100 sacred sticks into the crowd. It’s thought that luck will be bestowed on any man who manages to shove a stick into a rice-filled box called a masu.

It’s not an easy task, considering that the person who catches the stick then has to wrestle the rest of the mob of almost naked men until the stick is safely posted. Really, winning this game is the luckiest thing you’ll ever do. In fact, participants have occasionally been tremendously unlucky—as they were crushed to death on the temple’s floor.

3Festa De Sao Joao Do Porto

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The festival’s official English name is the Festival of St. John of Porto. It takes place every year on June 23 and attracts thousands of people to the Portuguese city’s center. The date is likely an indication of the festival’spagan roots. It’s around the time of the harvest when many people would stock up on leeks and garlic.

Leeks were also a symbol of fertility, owing in part to their somewhat phallic shape. The tradition follows that the leeks would be whacked on the heads of loved ones to aid their sexual performance.

In the 20th century, as they were presumably sick of the annual bruising, locals switched over to using plastic hammers instead of leeks. The hammers create comical whistling sounds on impact and are relatively painless.

Garlic is still a large part of the festivities. You can thrust cloves in front of people’s faces to communicate how much you like them. Don’t try this anywhere but Porto, though. You’re likely to get a much nastier blow to the head if you do.


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Takanakuy roughly means “when the blood is boiling.” It takes place in the Chumbivilcas Province of Peru on Christmas Day. During the ceremonial proceedings, five traditional characters are portrayed, including Negro. The character is that of a slave master during the Peruvian colonial period who dances in circles like a rooster.

These rituals build nicely to the main event of the festivities—the fighting. The tiny province of Chumbivilcas, with a population of around 300, sees its greatest influx of tourists during the event. Over 3,000 people flock to see the face-punching.

Feuds that have developed over the year are settled here, and all are welcome to participate. It’s not uncommon to see women and children take part, but it’s mostly men. Fists are wrapped in cloths, and the contest ends when an opponent is knocked out or the referee intervenes. The referees also carry whips to keep the fighters and the crowd from getting too frenzied.[9]

1The Abare Festival

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Also known as the Fire and Violence Festival, the Abare Festival is held on the first Friday and Saturday of July. The bizarre rituals involved are largely fueled by sake, and it is encouraged to cause chaos as this will please Susanoo-no-Mikoto, the Shinto god of sea and storms.

On Friday, a lantern parade takes place through the village of Ushitsu, Japan, and ends at the pier. There, the lantern carriers are greeted by large fires that are suspended on top of poles. As they burn, their embers glide down like snowflakes. Men and boys dance underneath and play drums, bells, and flutes.Nothing beats the chaotic flute.

On the second night, the focus is on the destruction of two portable shrinesas revelers march to the stationary Yasaka Shrine. The portables are thrown into roads and rivers and endure their fair share of fire, too. Whatever remains is placed in front of Yasaka Shrine and is smashed with flaming torches for hours on end to gain spiritual favor.

Top 10 Fascinating Facts About Laos

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Top 10 Fascinating Facts About Laos


Laos is an interesting place packed with rain forests, king cobras that are 4 meters (14 ft) long, stunning natural beauty, and relics of ancient civilizations. Those things are interesting, but we’re here for the weird stuff. Welcome to Laos, enjoy your stay, and don’t forget to tip your policeman.

10The Children Of CIA-Trained Operatives Still Fight The Government

Imagine what it must be like for the descendants of the Hmong fighters who took part in the Vietnam War. Your grandparents were trained by theCIA to kill communists, so your whole family has been on the run, hiding in the jungle, and conducting guerrilla campaigns. For 45 years.

It would be nice to maybe stop being a combatant in a war that your Gramps got drafted into, but coming out of the jungle has dangers. “Just some month ago, we reported cases where two small groups of women and children came out of hiding, the women and girls were gang-raped by the soldiers, children as young as nine years old were raped until death,” said Chue Chou Tchang, the president of Hmong American Mutual Assistance Association.

It must be a strange thing to know that the US guaranteed asylum to those who helped them during the war, and yet there you are—starving in the jungle, being hunted by the army, and with no way to escape.

After Vietnam, 300,000 ethnic Hmong fled to Thailand and 145,000 eventually were settled in the US. Ironically, after arming people against the communists in the first place, it was US Intelligence that thwarted a coup by the Hmong in Laos in 2007.

According to charges filed in federal court, nine ethnic Hmong and one retired lieutenant colonel from the California National Guard planned to train a militia, equip them with $9.8 million worth of weapons, smuggle them into Laos through Thailand, attack key government installations, and seat themselves as the new ruling regime.

9The World’s Most Bombed Country

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During Vietnam, the US dropped 270 million bombs on Laos. Thirty percent of them didn’t explode. In tonnage, there was more ordnance dropped on Laos than in Europe during the entirety of World War II. Today, hundreds of Laotians are maimed or killed by previously unexploded bombs—one-third of these victims either lose a limb or eyesight. In a developing country dependent on manual labor, the effect is devastating.

When 35 percent of the entire nation is contaminated with unexploded ordnance and everyone depends on working the land, it is little wonder that Laos is so poor. The secret war ended decades ago, but cluster bombs,grenades, and mortars from the past make the Ho Chi Minh trail a deadly place to live.

8One Of The Last Communist States Dependent On Capitalist Aid

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The economy of Laos has grown at a yearly rate of 6–7 percent since 1986 when the communist government loosened central economic control and allowed private enterprise. However, the nation is still largely dependent on foreign aid.

In the mid-1990s, President Nouhak Phoumsavan, an elderly disciple of Ho Chi Minh himself and a staunch Marxist-Leninist, was still committed to moving the nation toward true communism. At the time, critics in the party said:

We were a little dogmatic in the past and made a mistaken analysis . . . Laos is not yet ready for communism or capitalism. First, we must reach the point where we can opt for one or the other. We must be a little realistic. The subsistence economy is the obstacle.

Even though conditions are improving, this position is still hard to dispute. In the 2016 United Nations Human Development Index, Laos remained near the bottom, ranking 138 out of 188 countries. Life expectancy at birth is a little over 66 years, which is up from 50 years as of the mid-1990s.

Of 1,000 children born in 2012, 71 are expected to die before age five. This is a reduction of 56 percent from the 1990 rate of 163 per 1,000 births. However, Laos still experiences more deaths under age five than its neighboring countries.Malnutrition plays a large role in this unacceptably high death rate of young children.

7Deforestation Is A Threat To The Future

Photo credit: Adam Jones

In 2005, 70 percent of Laos was covered in rain forest. Today, 40 percent remains. Still, Laos is the site of some of the world’s last remaining true wilderness.

A small population and relative isolation from the predation of mass capitalism due to the controlled economy have protected much of the more remote parts. However, the decentralization of forest management by the government directly contributes to the acceleration of woodland exploitation.

An estimated 50 percent of the rain forest in Laos is primary forest, meaning that it is of indigenous species of trees and shows very little interference from mankind. As we move into a phase of life on Earth where resource conflict between nations is likely, we can hope that Laos avoids the worst.

6In Laos, The Opium Of The Masses Is Just Opium

In Laos, smoking opium is punishable by 3–10 years in prison. Possession of less than a kilogram can bring a sentence of 2–7 years. Despite this, the law is regularly flouted. Cafes in notorious backpacker destination Vang Vieng—the town where “teenagers ruled the world” according to the New Zealand Herald—until quite recently openly advertised opium tea and joints as well as magic mushroom pizzas.

Of course, if you are caught by the police in downtown Vientiane, you’re going to be wanting a lawyer and a lot of luck. You’ll want the lawyer to fight the trumped-up charges, and you’ll want the luck so you see the lawyer at all before being shot.

In 2009, this was the case for a pregnant British woman, Samantha Orobator, who was accused of smuggling heroin.It was nine months before she saw a lawyer, and she somehow became pregnant four months after being arrested. This eventuality saved her from the firing squad.

Still, life in a Laotian jail for moving drugs isn’t worth it.

5Rat Jerky, Deep-Fried Grasshopper, Or Chicken Feet—Better Than Wendy’s

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The cultural differences between West and East are often best described through the dinner plate. Cultural equivalence dictates that there are no wrong answers when it comes to satisfying taste buds. So if you are proud to partake of pecan pie, that’s fine.

On the other hand, you could be a little more open-minded and eat this jerky-style skin of rodent with a dipping sauce made of its own blood. Don’t be so squeamish. Embrace our differences. It’s the same as lasagna.

4A Lawless Party Town Is An Exercise In Darwinism

Photo credit: The Guardian

We mentioned Vang Vieng earlier as a tourist-oriented, drug-infested town. Although some steps have been made recently to reduce the number of dead tourists, the body count is still impressive. In 2011, 27 backpackers died at a site that is visited by 150,000 travelers every year.

Due to a perfect storm of cheap whiskey, psychedelics, opiates, youthful exuberance, and a disregard for warning signs, travelers have been getting fished out of the river with broken necks and lungs full of water for years.

Every death is a tragedy. But now that people are wearing life jackets while they climb into truck inner tubes and ride the river, the death toll is expected to decrease. Then again, if you’re too stupid to read a sign saying, “Do not jump; you will die,” you don’t deserve to breed.

3Sapphires And Corruption And Dead Lawyers, Oh My

Everyone loves a good shaggy dog story. The one told here is particularly great and true—a tale of sapphire deals and murder.

Back in the 1990s, an Aussie SAS veteran, an American raconteur, and a crooked lawyer formed an unlikely partnership to launder $20 million through the purchase of Laotian sapphires.

After running a savage burn across two countries, the lawyer ended up mysteriously dead in a hotel in Phnom Penh. He had not been robbed of anything except his laptop, which contained all the access codes to millions of dollars in cleaned money. Who ended up with the loot is anyone’s guess.

In the “Golden Triangle” of heroin production, there are some of the finest silver jewelry smiths in the world. A relatively unexploited supply of sapphires also awaits—for anyone who stays alive long enough to get them out of the country.

2The Plain Of Jars

According to some people, the stone vessels in Laos’ famous Plain of Jarswere created to brew potent rice wine to celebrate the victory of a band of mythical giants over their enemies. Others say that the jars held whiskey for a thirsty giant who lived in the mountains above Phonsavan. The jars might also be repositories for the ashes of cremated royalty. No one knows for sure.

We do know that, 2500 years ago, the civilization in the area really liked big jars. So they baked hundreds of them, up to 3 meters (10 ft) tall and 1 meter (3 ft) across, and placed them in the fields.

Covering a huge area, many of the sites coincide with the aforementioned bomb zones and are inaccessible to visitors. Whatever the reason these ancient peoples had, we are left with only trace evidence of their lives and can only guess as to the purpose of the jars.

1Corruption Is De Rigueur

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In September 2014, Laos Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong signed Decree No. 327 into law, banning online criticism of the government and the ruling communist party and ratifying penalties for citizens who violated government controls.

As a result, exposing the corruption that is part of everyday life in Laos is now illegal. So even if your brother is detained illegally by corrupt cops, it’s against the law for you to do anything about it.

This was discovered by 26-year-old Phout Mitane, who lived in Nabouam village and took photographs as police impounded her brother’s truck on documentation charges. She was taken into custody without being arrested after the photographs surfaced on Facebook. While it is common to bribe the police, the advances in technology have made it possible for Laotians to criticize this behavior online and en masse.

In Laos, it is illegal to disseminate content that encourages terrorism and social disorder or that could “divide the solidarity among ethnic groups and between countries.” In layman’s terms, the state knows about the corruption but it doesn’t want you to do anything about it.

Top 10 Most Dangerous Places To Visit Thanks To Humans

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Top 10 Most Dangerous Places To Visit Thanks To Humans


You may have noticed that humans tend to alter their surroundings to make themselves comfortable. We have been doing it since the dawn of agriculture. While most places remain livable, some have been so badly damaged that they are no longer safe for people to live in.

Whether this was due to neglect, weapons testing, or climate change, people have been ruining the Earth for millennia. In the past century, we ramped up our efforts and caused so much damage to the planet that just staying overnight in some of these places could be a death sentence.

10Anthrax Island(s)

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If the entry title didn’t immediately give this one away, you should avoid any place that is known as “Anthrax Island.” There are three such islands spread across the planet. They were used by the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union to test biological weapons such as anthrax. But that wasn’t the only deadly bug unleashed in these places.

Gruinard Island off the coast of Scotland was used by the UK during World War II to test anthrax. It was deemed uninhabitable until the late 20th century after decades of anthrax spore contamination.

Vozrozhdeniya Island was an island in the Aral Sea that was split between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. The Soviets used it in the early 1950s to test biological weapons. They planned on decontaminating the island, but the USSR fell before they could do so. Some areas have been cleaned up, but you would be ill-advised to dig up any soil.

Finally, the United States government owns and operates the Plum Island Animal Disease Center off the coast of New York. In a plan to sell the land, the government had to commission an environmental impact study to determine the levels of contamination.

9The Korean DMZ

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You might think that a demilitarized zone (DMZ) would be a safe place to go. The word “demilitarized” is a bit misleading since it refers to a stretch of land between the borders of North Korea and South Korea, which could also be called a no-man’s-land.

Within the 250-kilometer (155 mi) stretch of land, which is approximately 4 kilometers (2.5 mi) wide, there exists the largest accumulation of antipersonnel land mines on the planet. Because of the DMZ, the United States refused to sign an international treaty banning the weapons, which kill and maim far more unfortunate civilians than are killed by soldiers on either side.

Entering the DMZ is a risky venture for anyone. While incursions into each other’s territory happen every now and again, few people ever safely enter or exit the border. Both military factions constantly patrol the border on each side, so crossing into it is extremely difficult.

If you did manage to find yourself in the DMZ, the odds of getting captured or arrested are slightly lower than the odds of stepping on something, hearing a metallic click, and losing your leg.

8Gilman, Colorado

Gilman, Colorado, began as a mining town in 1886 during the Colorado Silver Boom. But it is considered a modern ghost town thanks to the permanent evacuation in 1984 ordered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The town was abandoned due to contamination of the groundwater from poor mining practices that allowed for an abundance of zinc, lead, cadmium, arsenic, and sulfides beginning in the early 20th century.

While Gilman was never a large town, it did host a population of around 300 people, which fluctuated every so often. The town has been declared aSuperfund site, which is a federal program identifying areas so contaminated with hazardous substances that they are no longer habitable and require cleanup.

As it stands, the town looks much like it did when it was abandoned. Vandalism has destroyed every pane of glass, but the houses, bowling alley, and even personal automobiles remain abandoned in the ghost town.

7Bikini Atoll

Photo credit: The Guardian

You may have heard of the Bikini Atoll atomic tests conducted in the 1950s, but you will never have a chance to visit there. The original inhabitants of the island have been exiled from their homeland for 71 years thanks to the US tests.

On March 1, 1954, the US tested the Bravo hydrogen bomb, a 15-megaton nuclear weapon that vaporized three islands and was more than 1,000 times the magnitude of the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The islands remain uninhabitable and deadly due to consistent fallout.

Beginning in 1946, the United States tested a total of 67 nuclear devices on and around the Bikini Atoll and the Marshall Islands. Twenty-three of those detonations took place directly on, over, or under Bikini Atoll.

Believe it or not, there are a few people who live on the island as caretakers. They regularly test the soil and work on cleanup methods to reduce the radiative impact.

Attempts have been made to return the original inhabitants and their descendants to the island. But all efforts have been stalled due to the abundance of strontium-90, which is not something humans should be around if they value their skeletons. (It causes bone cancer, leukemia, and a host of nasty diseases.)

6Picher, Oklahoma

Photo credit: Tim Dowd

Picher, Oklahoma, is a great place to visit if you want lead poisoning. The modern ghost town was abandoned by order of the EPA due to the abundance of unrestricted subsurface excavation throughout the town.

An Army Corps of Engineers study found that 86 percent of the buildings (including the school) were undermined and could collapse at any time. Weak buildings weren’t the only problem, though. A study in 1996 by the EPA found that 34 percent of the children in the town suffered from lead poisoning.

At one time, Picher was the economic hub of the entire region due to the abundance of lead and zinc mining. The population was in excess of 20,000 at one time with more than 14,000 miners working.

But the years of unregulated digging and poor waste management left the town uninhabitable, and it was declared a Superfund site. There are large piles of toxic metal strewn about the town, which doesn’t keep the groundwater very clean.

After the government bought the land and evacuated the population, the place became a wasteland of dead earth. It didn’t help that a tornado destroyed much of the town in 2008. The last resident died just a few years later.

5Wittenoom, Australia

It took a few years, but we eventually learned that asbestos is dangerous to humans. It causes mesothelioma—which is not only difficult to say, it’s deadly. So asbestos has been cleaned up and removed wherever it has been found.

In the 1960s, Wittenoom, Australia, was the largest producer of blue asbestos on the continent. But by 2013, the town was closed due to the toxic levels of blue asbestos throughout the area.

As the dangers of asbestos were becoming clear in the late 1970s, the government began phasing out the township. The town was becoming contaminated and dangerous to anyone who needed to breathe, so the phasing out seemed like a good idea.

By 2015, the Australian government had removed the town from its services, essentially delegitimizing it so that it no longer existed. Some people held out until that time. But when the government no longer recognizes the place you live as being a real location, it’s time to move somewhere else.

Three people may not have gotten that message since they are still defying all logic and refusing to leave the town.

4Centralia, Pennsylvania

Photo credit: Jrmski

The next time you are visiting Pennsylvania, steer clear of a small mining town named Centralia. The place has been on fire for 55 years and could burn for another 250 if estimates are correct.

Yes, you read that correctly, and you would be wise to read the signs posted all over the place that warn weary travelers of their probable deaths byasphyxiation or by being swallowed by the ground . . . which is often ablaze.

Centralia once hosted a modest population of 1,000 people, but it is now a modern-day ghost town thanks to an underground inferno that is consuming tons of coal. The townspeople were able to suppress the fire aboveground, but it raged underground and continues to smolder.

Fissures open on the surface all the time and spew sulfurous gases that are deadly to anyone and anything. There are 12 people still living there as they refuse to leave. But they represent just 1 percent of the original population. Moving to Centralia is a death sentence for most people, and it should never be on a list of places to check out while driving through Pennsylvania.

3Chernobyl Zone Of Alienation, Ukraine

Photo credit: The Atlantic

One of the worst nuclear disasters of all time occurred at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in 1986. Thanks to a late-night safety test, the shutoff of emergency safety systems, and a preventable steam explosion and graphite fire, nuclear fallout precipitated over much of the western USSR and parts of Europe.

Thirty-one people were killed directly by the radiation released from the accident, 28 of whom were firefighters and employees working to put out the fires and stop the radiation leak.

Since the accident, an exclusion zone has been established extending 30 kilometers (19 mi) in all directions. It has been estimated that the land will not be fully safe for human habitation for another 20,000 years.

But despite the danger, some Ukrainians refuse to leave and have remained within the exclusion zone. The workers who continue to build a sarcophagus around the remaining plant are only permitted to work for five hours a day for one month before being forced to take 15 days off.

The site can be visited if the proper precautions are taken. But visiting is dangerous and should only be done to learn more about the disaster (if that’s your thing).

2Aral Sea

Photo credit: NASA

The Aral Sea was once a large lake between the borders of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. But thanks to global climate change, the lake is ostensibly gone. As we mentioned, Vozrozhdeniya Island used to be an island in the Aral Sea but isn’t any longer due to the huge loss of water that has left the entire area an arid wasteland.

The lake is only 10 percent of its original size, and much of the loss has occurred in the past 30 years. The sea began shrinking due to a Soviet plan in the 1960s to reroute several of the rivers feeding it. But most of the water has evaporated thanks to the increase in global temperatures.

The shrinking of the Aral Sea has been called “one of the planet’s worst environmental disasters.” Although the area was once a prosperous fishing location that helped boost the economies of both border nations, it is now a dead zone.

The ruins of fishing vessels litter the desert landscape in an area that is now heavily polluted and a public health concern. Numerous towns vanished from the face of the Earth, and the eastern basin of the Aral Sea is now known as the Aralkum Desert.

1Fukushima Exclusion Zone, Japan

Photo credit: Time

Thanks to the Tohoku earthquake on March 11, 2011, a tsunami pummeled the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, resulting in three nuclear meltdowns.

Although it may seem like an “act of God” type of disaster, an independent investigative team determined that the causes of the accident were foreseeable and the plant operator had failed to meet basic safety requirements, resulting in the fallout. As of this writing, the Fukushima nuclear disaster is the most significant nuclear incident since we split the atom.

Contaminated groundwater continued to seep through a frozen soil barrier that has been erected to protect the area from the fallout, and the environmental impact has been significant.

Since the accident, there haven’t been any directly related deaths. But estimates suggest that thousands of people may succumb to cancer as a result of the fallout over the next 3–4 decades. Due to all the contamination, the area within a 20-kilometer (12 mi) exclusion zone is currently off-limits unless you are interested in acquiring severe radiation sickness and, you know, dying.

The Battle of Mosul

Post 8462

The Battle of Mosul

Iraqi government declared the city of Mosul liberated on July 9th, after a nine-month offensive to retake the city. Since October, the forces in Mosul have faced the toughest fighting in the 3-year war against the Islamic State fighters in Iraq. Entire neighborhoods have been destroyed and Amnesty International called the battle a ‘‘civilian catastrophe,’’ with more than 5,800 civilians killed in the western part of the city. The gruelling battle displaced nearly 900,000 from their homes. Sporadic fighting continues in the Old City, signaling the presence of militants still in the area.
Iraqi Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS) members stand amid destroyed buildings in the old city of Mosul on July 7, during the Iraqi government forces’ offensive to retake the city from Islamic State (IS) group fighters. (AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images)
An Iraqi man comforts a relative, who fled the fighting between government forces and Islamic State (IS) group jihadists in the Old City of Mosul, as they wait to be relocated in the city’s western industrial district, on July 8. (FADEL SENNA/AFP/Getty Images)
An Iraqi forces sniper looks on as smoke billows, following an airstrike by US-led international coalition forces targeting Islamic State (IS) group, in the Old City of Mosul on July 8. Part of the battle has been declared accomplished, while other forces continue to fight Islamic State (IS) jihadists in the city. (AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images)
Iraq’s federal police members wave Iraq’s national flag as they celebrate in the Old City of Mosul on July 9 after the government’s announcement of the “liberation” of the embattled city. (FADEL SENNA/AFP/Getty Images)
Iraqi federal policemen stand in a damaged building as Iraqi forces continue their fight against Islamic State militants in parts of the Old City of Mosul, Iraq, July 9. (Felipe Dana/Associated Press)
A general view of the destruction in Mosul’s Old City on July 9. (AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images)
A member of Iraq’s federal police kisses a girl as forces celebrate in the Old City of Mosul on July 9 after the government’s announcement of the “liberation” of the embattled city. (FADEL SENNA/AFP/Getty Images)
Members of the Iraqi federal police forces celebrate in the Old City of Mosul on July 10, after the government’s announcement of the victory against the Islamic State fighters. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s office said he was in “liberated” Mosul to congratulate “the heroic fighters and the Iraqi people on the achievement of the major victory”. (FADEL SENNA/AFP/Getty Images)
Iraqis celebrate the occasion of the liberation of Mosul in Tahrir Square in Baghdad, Iraq, July 9. (ALI ABBAS/EPA)
Members of the Iraqi forces in the Old City of Mosul on July 10, during the offensive to retake the embattled city from Islamic State (IS) group fighters. (FADEL SENNA/AFP/Getty Images)
An Iraqi woman, who fled the fighting between government forces and Islamic State (IS) group jihadists in the Old City of Mosul, sits while being comforted by another in the city’s western industrial district awaiting to be relocated, on July 8. (FADEL SENNA/AFP/Getty Images)
A general view of the destruction in Mosul’s Old City on July 9. (AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images)
An Iraqi woman, who fled the fighting between government forces and Islamic State (IS) group jihadists in the Old City of Mosul, reacts as she sits in the city’s western industrial district awaiting to be relocated, on July 8. (FADEL SENNA/AFP/Getty Images)
Airstrikes target Islamic State positions on the edge of the Old City a day after Iraq’s prime minister declared “total victory” in Mosul, Iraq, July 11. (Felipe Dana/Associated Press)

The Battle of Mosul

Post 8461

The Battle of Mosul

Iraqi government declared the city of Mosul liberated on July 9th, after a nine-month offensive to retake the city. Since October, the forces in Mosul have faced the toughest fighting in the 3-year war against the Islamic State fighters in Iraq. Entire neighborhoods have been destroyed and Amnesty International called the battle a ‘‘civilian catastrophe,’’ with more than 5,800 civilians killed in the western part of the city. The gruelling battle displaced nearly 900,000 from their homes. Sporadic fighting continues in the Old City, signaling the presence of militants still in the area.
Displaced children evacuate a neighborhood in West Mosul during the government-led offensive to retake Iraq’s second largest city from Islamic State (IS) group jihadists, on March 16. (ARIS MESSINIS/AFP/Getty Images)
Iraqi federal police inspect the inside of Mosul’s heavily damaged museum on March 8. Most of the artifacts inside the building appeared to be completely destroyed. The basement level that was the museum’s library had been burned. The floors were covered in the ashes of ancient manuscripts, in western Mosul, Iraq. (Khalid Mohammed/Associated Press)
U.S. soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division fire artillery in support of Iraqi forces fighting Islamic State militants from their base east of Mosul on April 17. U.S.-led coalition support for Iraqi ground forces in Mosul repeatedly proved to be the critical factor in the Mosul fight. (Maya Alleruzzo/ Associated Press)
A girl and her father cry as the family flees the al-Rifai neighborhood while Iraqi special forces battle Islamic State militants in western Mosul, Iraq. The U.N. children’s agency, UNICEF, warned on June 5, that the children in Mosul are bearing the brunt of the intensified fight between U.S.-backed government forces and IS in the city’s western half. (Maya Alleruzzo/ Associated Press)
A bomb explodes behind the al-Nuri mosque complex, as seen through a hole in the wall of a house, as Iraqi Special Forces move toward Islamic State militant positions in the Old City of Mosul, Iraq, June 29. (Felipe Dana/Associated Press)
A suspected Islamic State fighter sits in a basement as Iraqi forces continue their advance against Islamic State militants in the Old City of Mosul, Iraq, July 3. Islamic State militants managed to launch a counterattack that reversed days of Iraqi army territorial gains in just a matter of hours. (Felipe Dana/Associated Press)
Iraqi forensics team personnel inspect the bodies of victims at a site believed to be an apparent airstrike carried out by US forces three weeks ago at al-Shifa district, western Mosul, Iraq, July 5. (OMAR ALHAYALI/EPA)
A member of the Iraqi Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS) flashes the victory sign from the window of a humvee during an advance in the old city of Mosul on July 5, as the Iraqi government forces continue their offensive to retake the city from Islamic State (IS) group fighters. (AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images)
A view of the damage in the old city of Mosul on July 7, as Iraqi government forces continue to fight Islamic State (IS) group jihadists to retake the last parts of the city. (AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images)
Fleeing Iraqi civilians sit inside a house as they wait to be taken out of the Old City during fighting between Iraqi forces and Islamic State militants in Mosul, Iraq, July 8. (Felipe Dana/Associated Press)
Members of the Iraqi Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS) advance in the Old City of Mosul on July 6, during the Iraqi government forces’ ongoing offensive to retake the city from Islamic State (IS) group fighters. (AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images)
Fleeing Iraqi civilians walk past the heavily damaged al-Nuri mosque as Iraqi forces continue their advance against Islamic State militants in the Old City of Mosul, Iraq, July 4. (Felipe Dana/Associated Press)
continue on post 8462………

The Battle of Mosul

Post 8460

The Battle of Mosul

Iraqi government declared the city of Mosul liberated on July 9th, after a nine-month offensive to retake the city. Since October, the forces in Mosul have faced the toughest fighting in the 3-year war against the Islamic State fighters in Iraq. Entire neighborhoods have been destroyed and Amnesty International called the battle a ‘‘civilian catastrophe,’’ with more than 5,800 civilians killed in the western part of the city. The gruelling battle displaced nearly 900,000 from their homes. Sporadic fighting continues in the Old City, signaling the presence of militants still in the area.

Iraqi families, who were displaced by the ongoing operation by Iraqi forces against jihadists of the Islamic State group to retake the city of Mosul, are seen gathering on an area near Qayyarah on October 24, 2016. (BULENT KILIC/AFP/

A Peshmerga convoy drives toward the frontline in Khazer, about 30 kilometers (19 miles) east of Mosul, Iraq on Oct. 17, 2016. (Bram Janssen/ Associated Press)
Iraqi army soldiers raise their weapons in celebration on the outskirts of Mosul, Iraq on Oct, 20, 2016. The Iraqi forces prepared for nearly three years to rebuild their military to have enough troops and clear enough supply lines to launch an attack on Mosul. (Associated Press)
An Iraqi special forces soldier looks at a part of Mosul controlled by Islamic State fighters in Iraq, Nov.15, 2016. (GORAN TOMASEVIC/Reuters)
Iraqi security officers place a suspected Islamic State group member into the back of a waiting pickup truck, in east Mosul on Feb. 21. A secretive Iraqi intelligence unit is leading the hunt for IS sleeper cells in liberated Mosul. (John Beck/Associated Press)
Residents carry the bodies of several people killed during fights between Iraq security forces and Islamic State on the western side of Mosul, Iraq on March 24. The levels of destruction are dramatically different between Mosul’s east and west. Many of the east’s residential neighborhoods suffered relatively little damage. In the west, however, entire city blocks are damaged or destroyed by months of airstrikes and artillery. (Felipe Dana/Associated Press)
Federal Police Rapid Response Forces fire a rocket towards Islamic State positions near the Old City, in Mosul, Iraq, March 20. (Felipe Dana/ Associated Press)
A woman holds her daughters as gunshots are heard in a neighborhood recently liberated by Iraqi security forces in western Mosul, Iraq on March 14. (Felipe Dana/Associated Press)
An injured man is carried atop an Iraqi special forces armored vehicle during fighting against Islamic State militants in western Mosul, Iraq on March 14. (Felipe Dana/Associated Press)
A boy rides his bike past destroyed cars and houses in a neighborhood recently liberated by Iraqi security forces, on the western side of Mosul, Iraq, March 19. (Felipe Dana/Associated Press)

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